A Life of Contentment: Amy Dorrit

JAN / FEB 2012: BY CARISSA HORTON

amy

“Mrs. Clennam,” said Little Dorrit, “angry feelings and unforgiving deeds are no comfort and no guide to you and me.”

Amy Dorrit was blessed with a gift. There is no accounting for it. Having been raised in the Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison you would think she would have had no chance to cultivate such a gift. But cultivate she did, surrounded by simple folk, poor families and nearly bereft of money. What is that gift? It is the gift of being content regardless of her surroundings or station in life. Amy is one of those remarkable individuals, a type that rarely is seen in print or film. She finds joy in the little things, those special day-to-day moments that seem almost insignificant. She is still the same person, whether rich or poor, respected or belittled.

Even when money is thrown into the mix she does not change. Her father is released from prison and inherits a vast fortune, far beyond his wildest dreams. He takes his family on a tour of Europe, cultivating his children to the ways of the aristocracy and becomes arrogant in the meantime, far too proud to have time for his former friends and those who offered him charity in his darker moments. But for little Amy, all she desires is to not taint her memory of the Marshalsea where she had been raised for twenty-one years. The rest of her family, brother and sister, and especially her father, try to figuratively beat those warm memories out of her. Ridiculing her fondness for the people she had known her entire life. They encourage her to merely look forward instead of back.

But no, not Amy Dorrit. She cannot and will not forget the kindnesses and the compassion she received when her family was poor and meek and could not make their way in the world on their own. Amy does not forget. Anyone else would gladly place thoughts of the past behind them, especially if they had been raised in a debtor’s prison.

What makes Amy Dorrit so different, so unique? It is that gift again, of finding contentment wherever she might be regardless of status. Amy Dorrit found as much contentment in the simple, dirty streets surrounding the Marshalsea as she does on the canals of Venice, more in fact for at the Marshalsea she could be genuine.

How could Amy be happier restrained by bars than in the open air? How could she find contentment in such a place? Perhaps it is because she saw not the place but rather the people. When your life is more about the individuals placed in it than the grandeur or degradation of the structure, then you are bound to find contentment. Amy loves her family despite their denial. She loves her dear friends of the Marshalsea, despite her father’s insistence to the contrary. The setting of her life is unimportant. The fortune of her family, a great and magnificent gift, is unimportant to Amy except in that it brings her father much happiness. Amy was content at the Marshalsea. She is content wherever she is truly loved.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to say the same of us? To say that we are content, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves. That we are content so long as we have loved ones and that money is unimportant. But that is often not the case. Had I been raised in a debtor’s prison, I would not have been nearly so content as Amy. The walls would have been confining, and much like her sister Fanny, I would have fled them as soon as I was able. I am not Amy Dorrit. But I see in her that beautiful spark of a life that will be rewarded by God for its kindness and generosity even in adversity.

Amy is rewarded in the end for her goodness and ability to be content. Her love for Arthur Clennam, so long unreciprocated, is finally returned tenfold. It doesn’t matter to her when their fortune is stripped away and lost in a bad investment. Money was inconsequential to her happiness and welfare. What mattered to Amy, what really mattered, was being surrounded by the people she loved. When the money was gone, a burden was lifted from her slim shoulders. No longer did she need to pretend she was someone else, a grand lady of importance. She could return to being little Amy Dorrit. Her contentment had seen her through, for she had been content if not necessarily happy in all her circumstances of life. Amy Dorrit, in her simplicity of nature and gentility of spirit, certainly reflects God’s ultimate promise that in His kingdom the last shall be first. What a bountiful reward! ♥

janfeb2012

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carissa Horton sews, knits, and writes. She works for Compassion International, which finds sponsors for third world children, and dreams of being an agent at a publishing house. She blogs about life, faith, relationships, and fandom in her free time.

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